Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Leave a comment

Back To Fat?

English: A display of high fat foods such as c...

English: A display of high fat foods such as cheeses, chocolates, lunch meat, french fries, pastries, doughnuts, etc. Reuse Restrictions: None – This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and/or author listed above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It appears that Americans are returning to whole fat foods – meat, butter, cheese, whole milk.  Perhaps that may be due to the recent demonizing of foods high in carbohydrates – primarily refined sugars. The recommendations to restrict either fats or carbohydrates has led to unprecedented confusion on just what we should eat and many consumers are just giving up in utter frustration.  However, the return may not be the best idea until we examine what other choices we may have.  In my opinion, the jury is still out among the “experts” on just how much saturated fat is heart healthy or if carbohydrate restriction can help prevent heart disease.  Recent evidence suggests that carbohydrate restriction does affect some cardiovascular risk factors and may help prevent diabetes type 2.

I cannot help but to return to the lessons learned from the recent books by Dan Beuttner, The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest and The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.  One cannot ignore what they reveal which mimics the advice from food writer, Michael Pollan who says:  Eat Food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants.  This advice says it simply – Try to practice mindful eating including portion control, eat whole, real foods, and include plant-based foods like beans, legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, fruits. (He doesn’t mean french fries).  It becomes obvious the often used mantra of “all things in moderation” can mean that our beloved meats, butter, and full-fat cheeses can be  included using some common sense.

Everyone must decide for themselves what foods they are going to eat. As the Blue Zone books show us, genetics, diet and other lifestyle factors can determine how we will age and  how well  we live out our lives with  either disabilities or good health.  The choice is up to us.

The next two articles illustrate what is really going on with our latest diet dilemma and offer some common sense on how to deal with the  current  American diet debate.



Leave a comment

Fear of Food?

The following article is a witty and healthy reminder that we should keep in mind when reading about the latest food scare.  It is no wonder that we have individuals who are predisposed to take healthy eating to extremes – now a new eating disorder called orthorexia.  Let us be reminded that the most healthy cultures like the French and those longest-living populations found in the book, The Blue Zones embrace foods and the art of eating with pleasure and enjoyment.  Maybe we should all relax a little and try to do the same.


Leave a comment

Food and Diet Myths Busted

Busted in rust

Busted in rust (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good article from Eating Well that breaks up some long-standing nutrition and diet myths.  There is also a lot of good information here and it provides the sources. Enjoy!



Who is Your Nutritionist?

Adelle Davis

Adelle Davis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Sally J. Feltner, PhD, RDN

What is a Nutritionist? 

The term “nutritionist” is loosely defined. The story of Adelle Davis best describes how far this definition can lead to the spread of diet advice gone wrong. Ms. Davis, although formally trained in the 1930’s in biochemistry became America’s most celebrated “nutritionist.” By 1969, the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, the panel on deception and misinformation agreed that she was probably the most damaging single source of false nutrition information in the country. She believed that most diseases could be prevented by regular drinking of her “Pep-up” concoction of egg yolks, oil, lecithin, calcium salts, magnesium oxide, yogurt, granular kelp, milk, yeast, wheat germ and soy flour, blended without cooking. She wrote in her book Let’s Get Well, “I have yet to know of a single adult to develop cancer who has habitually consumed a quart of milk a day”. She died of cancer (multiple myeloma) in 1974. So much for the milk theory!

While we have come far since those days of nutrition quackery, we still have some individuals that use bogus credentials to feign expertise. Many use invalid methods of health or nutritional assessment practices. Many of these people sell supplements that promise the hope of health in a bottle. Nutrition advice is all over the Internet. These days, almost anyone is a self-prescribed “nutritionist” of some kind and it is difficult to sort out the advice that is based on science.

It starts with Accreditation

Every school, college, or university claims some kind of accreditation. In other words, does the nutrition education of the “nutritionist” come from a legitimate college or university? There are diploma mills defined as organizations that sell degrees that declare recipients to be “nutritionists” or “nutritional consultants” without requiring them to meet educational standards established by reputable institutions. Many have created their own accrediting agency and proclaim themselves as “accredited.” Some of these institutions offer credentials or a certificate if you attend only a weekend seminar.

To find out whether a college or university is accredited, you may consult the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a private agency that accredits the accreditation agencies (

What are the credentials of Nutrition Professionals?

RD or RDN – Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist

  • They need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; many have graduate degrees.
  • Complete an internship (typically 6-12 months in length)
  • Pass a national exam
  • Complete continuing education hours as required by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

DTR – Dietetic technicians, registered

  • Minimum of an associate’s degree
  • Complete an approved program, including 450 hours of supervised practice experience
  • Pass a national exam
  • Complete continuing education hours, as required by CDR

CDM, CFPP – Certified dietary manager, certified food production professional

  • Take the certification exam of the Certifying Board for Dietary Managers, part of the Association of Food and Nutrition Professionals (AFNP
  • Completion of continuing education hours, as required by AFNP

CNSD, CNSC – Certified nutrition support dietitian, certified nutrition support clinician

  • RD/RDN status with CDR
  • Minimum 2 years experience in specialized nutrition support
  • Pass a national exam every 5 years

CDE – Certified diabetes educator

  • RD/RDN status
  • 2 years of RD working experience
  • Minimum of 1000 hours of diabetes self-management experience
  • Minimum of 15 clock hours of continuing education activities
  • Pass a national exam


  • Board certified specialist in gerontology nutrition, sports dietetics, pediatric nutrition, renal nutrition, oncology nutrition, respectively
  • RD/RDN status
  • Documentation of 2000 hours in area of concentration with the past 5 years.
  • Pass a national exam

LD, LN, CD – Licensed dietitian, licensed nutritionist, certified dietitian, respectively

State issued.  Currently 46 states have licensing laws that regulate the use of the term dietitian or nutritionist, practicing medical nutrition therapy or nutrition counseling to the public. Some of these laws, however, are weak and fail to enforce the laws they have enacted. The states differ in who is eligible for licensing – e.g. those with an an RD/RDN status, have  an advanced degree or a legitimate medical or nutrition credential such as a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) from a fully accredited institution can apply.

What Can Happen when Licensing Laws Are Ignored?

Some people often purchase degrees or credentials for their pets for fun to prove the illegitimacy of a selected diploma mill, licensing board or “academic” institution for a court case or other reasons.

Here are some of the “graduates”:

Henrietta Goldacre, a cat, became a “certified nutritionist” (CN) when her owner, Dr. Ben Goldacre, a British psychiatrist, was researching the credentials of Gillian McKeith, a British nutrition author. He found that she had obtained her doctorate from an unaccredited American school and had purchased a nutrition diploma from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. In testing this practice, he obtained the same degrees for his cat, Henrietta.

Sassafrass Herbert, a female poodle and Charlie Herbert, a cat, both owned by a New York physician, Dr. Victor Herbert. He purchased their diploma certifications as a CN for $ 50.00 from the same organization as Goldacre; each received stunning documents suitable for framing

Other animals have received degrees from diploma mills in other fields of study:

  • A bird with an aviation doctorate
  • A bulldog named Maxwell Sniffingwell who was awarded a medical degree (MD)
  • Several cats with high school diplomas
  • A cat as a Certified Real Estate Agent
  • A dog with a MBA
  • A dog with a BS in Criminal Justice

Bottom Line

Use Your Common Sense! If you cannot get adequate information about the educational background of your nutritionist, stay clear of them. They may only be interested in your money and may give you false information or flood you with supplements you really do not need. And worse case scenario – “Adelle Davis” may still be living out there somewhere. It is also important to realize the many “nutritionists” have good intentions even though they have been scammed by the various organizations that promised them legitimacy. All buyers beware!







Leave a comment

A Positive Take on School Lunches

We have all heard and seen pictures of the disgusting lunches allegedly served in some of our public schools.  The following article is a breath of fresh air with honesty and sensibility in the ongoing debate about the quality of school lunches based on the new healthier guidelines.  Bottom line:  Pictures can be deceiving on both sides of the debate  – the real outcome is : Do the kids actually eat these lunches –would be great if this is occurring?  Along with the pretty pictures should come nutrition education at the earliest ages about where their food comes from and the reasons they should eat healthy foods.


Leave a comment

Irradiated Food?


Radura symbol used for irradiated food in USA ...

Radura symbol used for irradiated food in USA (as legally implemented) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food irradiation has been around for decades and has been approved for spices, dry vegetable seasonings.   Other additions to the approved list are shell eggs and seeds, seafood,  lettuce. spinach, poultry.  Due to the recent Listeria outbreaks, manufacturers have petitioned the U.S. government for permission to irradiate processed meats such as hot dogs.  All irradiated foods, except dried seasonings must be labeled with the international symbol, Radura and a statement that the product has been treated by this process.  Americans appear to have an unfounded fear of this process and many think that the food becomes radioactive.  This is not true; no radioactive residues remain and the process is as safe as heating your dinner in a microwave.  There is no change in nutritional quality or taste, texture or appearance. Many countries including Mexico, France, Japan and Italy have been using this technology for many food products.  Pasteurization when introduced in the late nineteenth century was met with similar apprehension.  Consumer acceptance is the key – if it occurs, many cases of food borne illness could be prevented along with the health complications associated with these illnesses.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers